November 4, 2016

Cleaning Up After the Big Feast

Thanksgiving clean up

You pulled off a delicious Thanksgiving feast, but now you’re ready to pass out from exhaustion. Before you go to bed, there are a few quick and easy cleaning hacks that will make your life so much easier in the morning (go ahead, sleep in tomorrow):

Food & Dishes

  • Clean out your fridge a few days before Thanksgiving and designate a shelf for leftovers. Throw out or compost any expired food to make room for all that stuffing and pumpkin pie.
  • Put leftovers away and freeze anything you don’t plan to eat in the next few days. Glass is a good BPA-free option for freezing — just be sure to leave 1 inch of space between the food and the lid for liquids to expand.
  • Red wine can stain glasses if it sits overnight, so give stemware a quick rinse (washing can wait until morning). Most wine glasses can go through the dishwasher on the delicate cycle, but you’ll want to hand wash crystal and special glasses to remove wine stains.
  • Empty the dishwasher before the big meal so you don’t have to deal with last night’s dirty dishes. After your guests leave, load and run your dishwasher. It takes two minutes and you’ll wake up to clean dishes instead of cemented-on food scraps.
  • Fill the sink with very hot water and a few squirts of dish soap. Leave pots, pans, and casserole dishes to soak while you sleep.

House Cleanup

  • Keep trash bags out during the feast to encourage guests to clean up after themselves. After everyone leaves, you can collect the bags and take them outside to prevent smells.
  • Quickly wipe down your counters with a soapy sponge, an all-purpose cleaner, or stone cleaner to remove spills. (Never use vinegar on granite, which can etch when exposed to acids.) If stains have settled in, make a paste with baking soda and a little hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 1 hour, then wipe clean.
  • Spot check the carpet before you go to bed and blot stains with a paper towel or clean white rag (never scrub, which can damage the carpet fibers).
  • If your candles have dripped on your carpet or sofa, hold an ice cube on the wax until it hardens. Pry the wax loose with the edge of a dull knife. Clean colored stains from the candle dye with a solution of dish soap and white vinegar in 2 cups of warm water.
  • Pick up large pieces of broken glass or decorations with rubber gloves. Vacuum up small pieces (don’t sweep, since glass can stick to brooms). Then blot the area with a piece of soft bread to pick up any remaining shards.

Stains & Spills


holiday stains


  • Rinse red wine stains under cold water (if possible). If the stain won’t budge, saturate it with a mixture of 1 part dish soap and 3 parts hydrogen peroxide. Blot with a clean white rag, repeating until the stain disappears.
  • Break up greasy stains like gravy and olive oil with dish liquid. For clothing and tablecloths, apply the soap directly to the stain, rub gently, and wash according to the label. For carpet and upholstery, dissolve the soap in a cup of hot water and blot the bubbles onto the stain with a clean white rag.
  • Dab lipstick stains on cloth napkins with a clean rag dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  • Soak light-colored cloth napkins in a bowl of hot water with ¼ cup of laundry detergent powder. (Or, choose dark-colored napkins for your Thanksgiving feast, since they won’t show stains from cranberry sauce!)
  • Shake out your tablecloth, spray stains with laundry stain remover, and toss it in the washing machine to soak overnight. An enzyme-based pretreatment will help tackle the toughest stains like coffee, chocolate, and berries.
  • Get rid of water rings on wood furniture with a dollop of mayonnaise and a soft cloth. Let the mayonnaise sit for at least 30 minutes, then buff and wipe clean.

Do you host Thanksgiving? What tips would you offer to make cleanup easier? Join the conversation in the Generation Good forum. We would love to hear your stain removing strategies.